Dear Congregational Family,

1. President George Washington’s Prayer for the United States of America: I found this prayer in the little museum in the basement under Old St. Luke’s Church last week while exploring with Sam!
“Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large.
And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplications, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

2. Ruthfred Camping Trip: A good number of our youth and families enjoyed the church camping trip last weekend. I encourage more of you to join this next year, even if only for a day! See pictures below.

3. Canada: In the U.S. we have just celebrated our liberties and freedom of religion, but in Canada it is quite another story. Christians and those who have simply made remarks regarding issues of morality and sexuality and gender have found themselves fined, silenced and sidelined, and prosecuted by the government. There has also been a growing government overreach in shutting down Christian gatherings. This has especially been seen this past year in regards to Covid-19, but it has been churches that have been the target of the government. Just last month, the Christian Post, reported that a Canadian pastor was “arrested after his church held an outdoor worship service at an undisclosed location after the local government ordered the church building to be closed.” The “congregation was reportedly discovered by a police helicopter” as they were hunted down while meeting outdoors, meaning that they were not violating COVID guidelines for indoor meetings. The next day the pastor was arrested.

4. Friends: A recent study by the Survey Center on American Life revealed that Americans now have fewer close friends compared to three decades ago, but men have faced the brunt of that social shift, with five times as many now reporting they have no close friends at all. The study showed that only 59% of Americans, in general, report having a best friend today compared to 77% in 1990. And while 30 years ago 55% of men said they have at least six close friends, just 27% of men now say that. Some 15% now say they have no close friends at all compared to 3% in 1990. While women fare better, they also are experiencing a loss of close friends. The upside is that people appear to be spending more time talking with their spouse or parents; but the fact remains that friends do enrich one’s life. It has been found that having friends helps one to stay in better physical shape, avoid depression, and even extends one’s life by 22%. As our culture increasingly struggles to make and invest in friends, how can we as Christians give more priority to this. Jesus invested deeply in friends!

5. VBS: The countdown is accelerating! In just 13 days, Vacation Bible School will start! Please be in prayer for Lauren Compel and all the leaders and helpers as we are preparing for this wonderful week! If you have not yet registered, please go online and do so to help us better prepare regarding numbers. This is a great opportunity to invite friends!! It is a week of spiritual growth for all! For some families, this is one of their few exposures to Jesus and our church during the year; therefore, your invitation to them is vital!
6. Brandon & Bekah Fouks Farwell: On August 1st, after the 11:00am service, we will be having a cake reception in the Fellowship Hall to honor them. We are so grateful for these past 5 ½ years that Brandon has been our youth director!

7. Sermon: This past Sunday we started our new series on the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. It is so timely for our congregation today as well. I am looking forward to this series together with you as we look at how God has “Called, Chosen and Connected Us Together in Christ as the Church!” If you missed last Sunday, I encourage you to go online and listen as it sets a good foundation for the entire series. God bless you as you spend this time in His Word!

Sermon Title: “Peace & Unity in Jesus Ends Division”
Sermon Text: Ephesians 2:11-22

Growing Together in our Faith as the Family of God,
Pastor Carlson